- Monroe E. Dodd
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Monroe Elmon Dodd, Sr. (September 8, 1878 – August 6, 1952) was an American Southern Baptist clergyman who was a pioneer radio preacher, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, the founder of the former Dodd College for Girls, and served as the Southern Baptist Convention President from 1934-1935. He is also considered the father of the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program for foreign missions.
Dodd was born to William Henry Dodd and the former Lucy Williams in Brazil, a community ten miles east of Trenton, the seat of Gibson County, Tennessee, located between Memphis and Nashville. He was named in part for his paternal grandfather, James Monroe Dodd. As a youth, Monroe plowed with a three-yoke team of oxen on the family farm. Gibson County was recognized nationally in the late 19th century for its innovative use of new farm equipment. William Dodd was among the area farmers moving into the new age of agriculture. When he was thirteen, Dodd got into trouble, was whipped by his father, and ran away from home. He went first to Dyersburg in northwestern Tennessee, where he boarded a freight train headed to Paducah, Kentucky. He soon returned home.
Dodd's mother was active in the Primitive Baptist faith and provided a home atmosphere with prayers and Bible readings. While attending school in Brazil, Dodd was converted to Christianity and joined the Poplar Grove Baptist Church, having been baptized on August 12, 1892. He intended to become a lawyer but was soon called to the ministry after the death of Allen Dodd, his younger brother. Allen confessed to Monroe: "The Lord has called both of us to be preachers, but now you will have to heed the 'call'"
In 1904, Dodd received both his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity degrees from Union University, a Baptist-affiliated institution in Jackson, Tennessee, the seat of Madison County. From the same university, he received a doctor of divinity degree in 1909 and, fulfilling his first childhood inclination, an LL.D. degree in 1930. He obtained a second doctor of divinity degree from Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in 1918. He also did correspondence work through the University of Chicago and the Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania, near Chester.
Dodd served in the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Dodd was the pastor of churches in Fulton, Paducah (where he had run away to as a boy), and Louisville, Kentucky, and Los Angeles, prior to accepting the position in Shreveport. He was an officer of the Foreign, Home, and State mission boards, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and the "75 Million Campaign" to reach the unchurched. That effort, established in 1925, is now known as the "Cooperative Program". Dodd served as a president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention and was a member of the executive committee of the Baptist World Alliance.
He began preaching on radio from Shreveport when the new medium first appeared in the 1920s. At the time, he was the First Baptist pastor, holding pulpit duties from 1912-1950. He also opened Dodd College. For a year he hired future Louisiana Governor James Houston "Jimmie" Davis, a graduate of Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville, as an instructor of history. Dodd wrote fourteen books.
Death and legacy
On October 10, 1904, Dodd married the former Emma Savage, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. George M. Savage of Jackson, Tennessee. They had four daughters and a son: Dorothy, Helen, Martha, Monroe E. Dodd, Jr. (born 1910), and Frances.
The Southern Baptist Convention offers the M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated continuous excellence in supporting missions at home and abroad through the SBC. Carlisle Driggers, the executive director/treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, won the M. E. Dodd award in 2006. The award is a bronze sculpture of a sower scattering seed around the world.
Dodd is interred in Shreveport's Forest Park Cemetery off St. Vincent Avenue.
- "Monroe Elmon Dodd", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I (1988), p. 249
- S.A. Wilkins, "Dodd College," North Louisiana History, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 1980), pp. 29-34; Wilkins, "Dodd College, Shreveport, La.," North Louisiana History, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Winter 1983), pp. 13-20.
- "Exemplary Cooperative Program Support", SBC Life: The Journal of the Southern Baptist Convention, January 2007, p. 8
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